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L’AVION – Gabriel Yared

lavionOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following the controversial (and, in my opinion, wholly inexcusable) rejection of Gabriel Yared’s score for Troy last year, and his subsequent public spat with Warner Brothers, many people wondered whether he would ever work in the Hollywood mainstream again. Although the idea of him being given a complete cold-shoulder by the major studio executives is unlikely, it’s not unsurprising to learn that his first post-Troy feature assignments are all predominantly European films: the German drama Das Leben Der Anderen, English director Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering, and this film: the French drama L’Avion.

Originally entitled “Charly”, L’Avion is directed by Cédric Kahn and stars Isabelle Carré, Vincent Lindon and Roméo Botzaris. It follows the fortunes of a young French boy named Charly (Botzaris) who, following the accidental death of his scientist father Pierre, turns to fantasies of flight and aviation as a way of coping with the trauma – specifically the model aeroplane given to him by his father as a Christmas present just prior to the accident, which now whisks Charly away on a series of incredible adventures. The film opened in French and Belgian cinemas in July 2005, but is not yet scheduled for a wider international release.

To capture the double-sided element of the story – the heartbreak of the loss of a parent, and the power of childhood imagination – Yared has provided L’Avion with a score which is both sweeping and dramatic, yet simultaneously poignant and touching. Yared is a past master at this kid of duality, counter-pointing beauty with fragility, as earlier scores such as The English Patient, Message in a Bottle and City of Angels attest. Anyone familiar with those works will have a decent grounding in what to expect from L’Avion because, by and large, it is a score cut from the same cloth.

Written for full orchestra with highlighted solos for piano, flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon, Yared’s score swells with melancholy beauty and tragic charm. The main theme first appears, unsurprisingly, in the opening “Ouverture”, and is prominent throughout the rest of the score, giving the album a thematic consistency of tone and texture. In the majority of the subsequent cues, Yared allows the woodwinds to carry the melody almost exclusively, with the string section picking up the lead only when he wants to add another layer of emotional impact, such as in the gently magical “L’Enfant et l’Avion”, the sweeping “L’Avion Vole”, and the majestic “La Belle Équipée”, which has enough vibrato in the violins to have made even Alfred Newman think twice.

Occasionally the tone of the score shifts from intimate reflection to something a little more robust, as in “L’Aventure”, the slightly tense-sounding “Le Vertige”, the slightly jarring “Charly”, and the tempestuous “L’Avion En Danger”, which pits the main theme against a bed of skittery plucked strings and undulating percussion. “L’Avion Fou” is an interesting piece, the closest the score gets to having an action cue, which is filled with slashing string work and noticeably excellent performances from the cellos, before it emerges once more into a particularly powerful recapitulation of the main theme. At other times Yared allows his own piano to take centre stage, as in the nostalgic “Le Printemps” and “Le Piano”, both of which rekindle wonderful memories of the new age works of Georges Delerue. The extended finale, “La Météorite”, brings everything together through a series of satisfying performances of the main themes and a sufficiently epic sweep.

Overall, fans of Yared’s previous scores will find much in L’Avion to enjoy. It has the same whimsical charm and dream-like aura that many of his earlier works had in abundance, as well as a generally attractive and memorable main theme. While L’Avion is certainly a pleasant enough album, one can’t help but wonder what kind of films Yared would have been scoring had his original score for Troy remained intact: this style of music is fine, but we now know that Yared is capable of much, much more.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Ouverture (1:54)
  • Le Réveil de l’Avion (1:03)
  • L’Aventure (2:54)
  • L’Enfant et l’Avion (2:30)
  • Le Printemps (2:36)
  • L’Enfant et l’Avion (Variation) (1:51)
  • Le Vertige (2:56)
  • La Maison Vide (2:24)
  • L’Avion Vole (2:27)
  • Solitude (2:15)
  • Charly (2:11)
  • La Belle Équipée (3:07)
  • L’Avion En Danger (2:34)
  • L’Envol (3:24)
  • Le Piano (2:34)
  • L’Avion Fou (2:05)
  • La Plage (1:43)
  • La Météorite (6:34)

Running Time: 47 minutes 21 seconds

Colosseum CST-8101-2 (2005)

Music composed by Gabriel Yared. Conducted by Adam Klemens. Orchestrations by John Bell and Gabriel Yared. Featured musical soloists Gabriel Yared, Magali Mosnier, Paul Meyer, François Meyer and Gilbert Audin. Recorded and mixed by John Timperley, René Amerline and Peter Cobbin. Edited by Gabriel Yared and Jean-Pierre Arquié. Album produced by Gabriel Yared and Jean-Pierre Arquié.

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